Mosul refugees beyond half million for first time since operations start: MP

An Iraqi special forces soldier helps a family carry their child to cross from Islamic State controlled part of Mosul to Iraqi forces controlled part of Mosul, Iraq, March 4, 2017. Picture taken March 4, 2017. REUTERS

Mosul ( Refugees from western Mosul have surpassed half a milion since security operations launched in October to retake the city from Islamic State militants, a parliament committee said.

“Mosul refugees’ numbers have reached 502.000 since military operations launched to liberate the city and until present,” Raad al-Dahlaki, chairman of the Iraqi parliament migration and displacement committee, said in statements on Sunday. He, too, pointed out to dire humanitarian situations due to the lack of services inside refugee camps.

“Refugee numbers are on the rise due to the delay in concluding battles in western Mosul, and as security forces adopt new strategies that involve that delay in order to save stranded citizens,” according to Dahlaki.

The latest count of Mosul refugees by the Iraqi government stood at at least 433.000, with more than 260.000 estimated to have fled western Mosul since an offensive sat on in February to recapture that region. The United Nations count stood at 300.000.

IS’s reign over Mosul has forced hundreds of thousands to flee to refugee camps and to neighboring countries, but the extremist group has intentionally targeted civilians upon attempting to leave. Many have also been quoted complaining of food and medicine shortages at refugee camps.

The Iraqi government estimates the number of people displaced inside the country since the emergence of IS in 2014 by more than four million. But migration minister Jassem al-Jaff said Saturday that nearly two million were repatriated to their hometowns across Iraq.

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